Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Mushroom Fried Rice

Mushroom fried rice
It was one of those Saturdays when we would set off to find a new place for breakfast early in the morning.
Since the past few days winter has set in well.
Clear skies; crisp, cold air.
And a mild sun in the mornings.
All made for an enthusiastic outing formula.
B and I would scan the internet and decide on a few places, the earlier night.
B would always look for places serving English breakfasts ... for me. And that miffed me the most.
Because he would inevitably forget it is my veggie day.
And before my dear readers pounce on me for being an ingrate, let me clear the air by saying that yes, I very humbly and with utmost gratitude do acknowledge that the gesture is important.
But in the same breath will love to add, it does not always work.

So, the next morning, as we start, the same conversation plays between the two of us.
"Where are we going?", B asks as he turns the car to get on to the main road.
"I thought you had decided last night."
"?!!!! What happened to XYZ? You said they have a good menu."
"Yes. But you can't try the eggs and bacon or anything. It is your veggie day. "

And finally we end up at our favourite cafe on Koregaon Park.
I settle for my favourite cheese paratha and B for their awesome omelette with mushrooms and cheese.
And both of us share an egg free crepe stuffed with apples smothered with a cinnamon and lemon sauce.
And all of that drowned in honey ginger tea.

This act is replayed almost every other week.
Yes, we are not greatly adventurous when it comes to food. Rather, when it comes to food in Pune.
Partly because it is really not easy to find a good place in Pune that offers good food, good ambience and good service ... all together.
So we usually try to stay stuck to the few favourites that we have in the city.
A few of them, over time, have deteriorated in quality. And a few have stayed strong.
We do try new places but are very unforgiving if disappointed the first time.
And get all the more emotional when we see a good place starting to compromise on quality and taste.
More so, to cater to local palate.

With time, we have learnt not to take a good place for granted. Hence the disappointment is much less now.
Like we stoically took the very painful decision of never going back to our favourite South Indian Mess,  place in Rasta Peth, ever again.
Over a long time, we have been noticing a change in the attitude and also the quality of food.  But lived in denial till we got bad food for three times, back to back ... that would span over 3 weekends, back to back.
The batter was artificially fermented ... read - loaded with citric acid to give a feel of that fermented taste.
And the medu vadas had diminished in size and become more expensive than before.
But the last straw was when we were served cold sambar and denied a spoonful of chutney. Even their filter coffee has changed in flavour and strength.
I will attribute all this to the change of management.
Having a favourite place of ours for more than 7 long years, this place is now scratched off by us.

Anyway, I am sure we will find another good, very good South Indian joint in Pune.
Till then, we will enjoy our waffles and omelettes and pancakes for breakfast.

Chinese fried rice
Coming to today's recipe, I was pretty encouraged by my readers' response regarding the kind of photographs I am posting here.
So decided to share this vegetarian Chinese mushroom fried rice that I had rustled up one day for a quick meal. These photographs were taken on my phone ... but I was lucky to have natural light as I had made this for lunch. 

B loved it as is. I made myself a fried egg on the side.

Quick to make and full of protiens, this makes for a tasty, full meal.

Need :

Left over cooked rice
Mushrooms - cleaned and chopped
French beans - chopped
Onions - chopped
Garlic - chopped
Ginger - chopped
Green chillies - chopped 
Soy sauce
Freshly crushed black pepper powder
Cooking oil 

How to :

Heat a heavy kadai.
Add some oil. When it is smoking hot, add the chopped garlic and ginger.
Stir well on high heat.
Quickly add the onions and stir well.

Now throw in the vegetables and keep stirring.
Add a pinch of salt .... just a pinch.
On high heat keep stirring till the mushrooms lose all moisture.

Lower heat and add the rice, the soy sauce, a dash of vinegar and sugar.
Add salt.

Mix well on low heat.

When thoroughly mixed, raise heat and add the pepper powder.

Give a few more tosses and serve immediately. 

Chinese mushroom fried rice
Enjoy it as a quick lunch on a weekday or as a dinner on a lazy weekend night.
Perfect for a winter meal.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season and a Merry Christmas!
I have soaked my batch of dry fruits in rum and my kitchen , right now, is smelling like ... well ... a food blogger's kitchen.
I'll be baking today this beautiful, favourite cake for the family .... the Rum cake with fruit and nuts.
Do let me know of your creations for this Christmas.

Cheerio all!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chingri Macher Jhol / A light Prawn curry

Chingri macher jhol or Prawn curry recipe
It is frantic time in the house again.
Winter has been dilly dallying for a while  now. No matter how much we tried to psyche ourselves into believing that since it is December it is cold.
But still needed an open window in the nights. And a fan on, in some.
But after the sudden storm and rain that took us by surprise and continued to do so for two whole days, the clouds have finally parted and the winter chill has finally set in.

It is no longer foggy in the evenings or the mornings.
Rather, it is clean and bright and crisp. With a sharp cold in the air.
Standing in my balcony with a hot tea cup in my hands, sipping into the hot ginger flavoured brew has a different meaning altogether now.
Very different from the rainy days, when I love to stand in my balcony the same way.

Now I can see the trees for as far as eyes can  and make out every single shade of green that the jungle shows in the beautifully sparkling sunlight.
And now, for the next few weeks at least, I will enjoy my breakfasts here too.
And soak up some late afternoon sun.

With holiday season on, I will be having guests over. And that means some mad days too.
I love it when friends from outside the city come to stay.
A different routine sets in.
And the house looks different too. Especially if they have small children with them.
Come January and the family will be over too.

So all I can see right now is more of outdoor plans, grocery and gifts shopping.
And much less of blog posts.

Hurriedly putting together this post with a recipe that I have been longing to share.
Made this a few weeks ago and fell in love with prawns all over again.

While the gravy does have garlic and ginger, it is still a light, soupy kind of jhol.
And the flavour of the prawns gives this a totally different flavour from what it would have had if made with only vegetables or the Rohu fish.

Chingri macher patla jhol
 Need :

Medium sized fresh water prawns - 8 pieces
Green cardamom / Choti elaichi - 2, broken
Cinnamon / Dalchini - 1 small piece
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Onion paste - 3 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Grated tomato - 4 tbsp 
Potato - 1 medium, cut lengthwise
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander / Dhania powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - ½ tsp
Cooking oil - I use Mustard oil
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste 

How to :

Marinate the cleaned prawns with salt and turmeric powder.
Heat 2 tbsp of mustard oil and lightly fry them.
Do not overcook ... just remove them as soon as they change colour and curl up.

Add 1 tbsp more of the oil and to it add the elaichi, dalchini, whole red chillies.

Add the onion paste and fry a little.
Now add the garlic paste + the ginger paste + sugar + haldi powder + red chilli powder.
Fry well till dryish and oil starts to leave the sides.
Add the tomato and the dhania powder.
Fry well.

Now raise heat and add 2 cups ( or as desired ) of water.
Add salt.
Cover and bring to a boil.

Remove cover and add the potatoes.
( You can fry the potatoes earlier and add them now too, I do not. )

Cover and cook on medium heat till the potatoes are well cooked. 

Remove cover, add the prawns and check for salt.

Cover and cook for 10 more minutes or till the gravy reaches desired consistency.

Remove cover and add the garam masala powder, cover and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Bengali style Prawn curry

Serve hot.

I had once heard Chef Gautam Maharshi  on a tv show mention that if ever you garnish a dish, do it with edible things.
And I feel nothing comes close to a great garnish than the humble coriander leaf.
Not only does it lend a flavour to the dish but also adds an appealing look to the plate.

What do you think?
Is the little sprig of a fresh coriander leaf in the photographs an eyesore? Unnecessary?
Or is the fresh green in harmony with the dish and  the photograph? 

Don't you feel like picking this baby up? 
Chingri macher jhol
This goes great with steamed rice.


Wishing you all Happy holidays.
I will try to be around with another post, hopefully, before the next week ends. But might disappear for a while after that.

C'ya all.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Rice Croquettes / Rice Tikkis .... with leftover Rice


 I have always believed in the importance of a good photograph to depict a recipe. And in the process, always try to cook a dish I want to blog about during the day, rush against time ... read the sunlight on my table ... to click photos in natural light and finally end up completely exhausted by late afternoon.
Not to mention the number of dishes or experiments I miss out posting on. Just because I experiment and create best in the evenings.
And good dishes like anything Chinese, soups, etc. are all made for dinner.

But now, I am seriously reconsidering this decision of mine.
While I will not put up undecipherable,  dull, boring pictures and try my best to portray a recipe as it has come out, I will not wait only for the day when I will be able to cook something good and click it in proper light.
I will try to click decent photos during the night too, in low light, bad light, whatever comes my way.
And experiment with photographs too ... as I do with my cooking.

Which is why I need a good lamp. I'm on the lookout but still haven't come across a good one.
Till then, I will use my phone and see what the reaction of my readers are ... if at all they care to leave a line. If not for anything just for a feedback or encouragement ... please do leave a line regarding your preferences ... photographs in natural light or photographs like the ones in this post ... clicked with my phone.
Much thanks.

It so happened that I had a good amount of left over rice in the fridge .... again.
That is not a problem ... I could always use it the next day with my fish curry. But it was a cloudy evening and I was craving something hot and quick to make. And kept eyeing that bowlful of left over rice. I was not in a mood to exactly sit down and think up something exotic ... so I did what I do best.
Give a shout out on FB.

Friends pooled in with suggestions.
There were so many that I started wishing I had more rice than that bowlful.
Anyway .... most suggestions veered towards Phodni chi bhaat or Bhaat bhaja ... where you just chop up onions and chillies and fry the rice with them and some masalas.
A wonderful dish ... but no ... I make it too often.
Also I needed a snack recipe ... not a main dish.

I had made a snack with left over rice earlier too ...  remember the steamed Rice balls? .... but wanted something different that evening.

Which was when Anjali of the beautiful Annapabrahma gave me the link to her recipe of Rice croquettes on the blog.
And I knew it was exactly what I wanted.

I tweaked the recipe a little and made two different batches of two different flavours.
One was with garam masala and can be called the Tikki. To the other I added mixed Italian herbs and called them croquettes.
Whatever the names .... the result was awesome!

The  croquettes / tikkis were so good that I had decided right then that I would make a post on these ... even if it were just for my own self.
Which is why I am posting the photographs clicked on my phone camera that evening.

I am sure you will love the recipe ... even if you don't like the photographs.

 Need :

Left over rice - preferably kept in the fridge for at least a day

For the Tikkis -
 Red chilli powder
Garam masala powder
Chopped onions
Chopped green chillies
Lemon juice
Chopped Coriander leaves 
Salt to taste

For the Croquettes - 
Mixed Italian herbs
Red chilli flakes
Chopped onions
Salt to taste
Lemon juice
Corn flour
A pinch of sugar

How to : 

Take the ingredients in two separate bowls and add the rice to them

Mash well.
Shape them, using dry rice flour to dust them ... helps them to hold shape.
I shaped the tikkis with Indian spices round.
And the croquettes oblong.
Deep fry the croquettes.
Pan fry the tikkis.
Serve hot.
Here is a closer look.

We enjoyed them with some Kasundi and ketchup on the side.
I had some coriander leaves chutney ... the tikkis went great with it.
We ... and our evening cuppa, were a happy lot that cold, cloudy evening.


I have finally managed to write the next of the continuing posts on our trip to Amritsar.
Do drop in.